Originally, savings accounts were created to give people a place to hang on to their money for the future, and to earn a little interest in exchange for doing it. It was a safer place to hold the money than under the mattress or in a box buried in the backyard, which is the type of savings people had before banks started offering savings accounts.
Savings accounts are still around to help people save their money and earn interest, but there is a greater variety of savings account options and many different reasons people open savings accounts. Many people have more than one savings account, designed to save for different uses.
Emergency Savings Accounts
Many people have set up savings accounts that are used for emergencies. It’s recommended that everyone establish an emergency account that has at least three months of living expenses in it; but for many people that is a challenge. Having an account that is designated for emergencies only is good even if you are unable to set it up with enough money to cover a full three months of expenses! For an emergency savings account, you want to be able to access the money when you need it – but you probably don’t want it to be so easy that you’ll be tempted to spend it in non-emergency situations.
Setting up an automatic deposit into your emergency fund helps you save a little at a time until you’ve reached your desired amount. Choose an account that allows a direct deposit or a bank transfer so you can quickly and easily move money into the account on a regular basis; and look for accounts that generate high interest so you can earn money on the balance you save until it’s needed for an emergency.
Christmas Club or Vacation Savings
Another type of savings account that many people set up is one to save for their holiday needs or to take a vacation. It’s a good idea to keep this money separate from your emergency savings, because you will be tempted to take your vacation as soon as there is enough money in the savings account and you’ll wipe out your emergency funds!
Some banks offer accounts that are specifically designed for holiday club savings or vacation savings – and may offer special perks for saving in these categories. You can use any savings account that meets your needs, however. Once again, since you’ll be leaving the money in the account until you’re ready to do your holiday shopping or go on vacation – you’ll want to find accounts that help you earn interest on the balance you have. For vacations that may be planned a few years away, you may want to put a chunk of your savings into a certificate of deposit or money market that will increase your interest earnings for a certain period of time.
Long term/Retirement Savings
Another potential savings account people may open is meant to be a long term savings. Some parents open savings accounts to put money aside in case their children decide to go to college when they’re older, while most people with and without children try to set money aside to help support them when they retire.
Choosing high interest savings accounts while you build up a balance is ideal; and once you have enough money saved in this category to move into a certificate of deposit or fixed rate IRA, you can probably find higher interest earning accounts with those savings options over a standard savings account.